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The Palm Islands are two artificial islands in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in the shape of palm trees. The Belgian and Dutch dredging and marine contractors Jan De Nul and Van Oord, were hired to complete construction. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah and the Palm Jebel Ali.
Each settlement will be in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent. The settlements will have a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centres and will add 520 kilometres of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai.
The two islands will comprise approximately 100,000 cubic metres (3,500,000 cu ft) of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in The UAE. On the two islands, there will be over 100 luxury hotels, residential beach-side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas.
The creation of the Palm Jumeirah began in June 2001. Shortly after, the Palm Jebel Ali was announced and reclamation work began. A third island was planned and construction started, but this project was later remodelled and renamed to Deira Island.
The Palm Islands are artificial islands constructed from sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf by the Belgian company, Jan De Nul and the Dutch company, Van Oord. The sand is sprayed from the dredging ships, which are guided by a Global Positioning System, on to the required area. The process is known as rainbowing because of the rainbow-like arcs produced in the air when the sand is sprayed. The outer edge of each palm's encircling crescent is a large rock breakwater. The breakwater of the Palm Jumeirah has over seven million tons of rock. Each rock was placed individually by a crane, signed off by a diver and given a Global Positioning System coordinate. The Jan De Nul Group started working on the Palm Jebel Ali in 2002 and had finished by the end of 2006. The reclamation project for the Palm Jebel Ali includes the creation of a four-kilometer-long peninsula, protected by a 200-meter-wide, seventeen-kilometer long circular breakwater. There are 210,000,000 cubic meters of rock, sand and limestone that were reclaimed (partly originating from the Jebel Ali entrance channel dredging work). There are approximately 10,000,000 cubic meters of rocks in the Slope Protection Works.
The Palm Jumeirah ( Coordinates: ) consists of a tree trunk, a crown with 16 fronds, and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11 kilometer-long breakwater. The island itself is five kilometers by five kilometers. It adds 78 kilometers to the Dubai coastline.
Residents began moving into Palm Jumeirah properties at the end of 2006, five years after land reclamation began.
A Monorail opened in 2009, but is not connected to other public transport.
The Palm Jebel Ali began construction in October 2002 and was expected to be completed in mid-2008. The project, which is 50% larger than the Palm Jumeirah project, will include six marinas, a water theme park, a sea village, homes built on stilts, and boardwalks that encircle the fronds of the palm.
The construction of the Palm Islands and The World, for all Nakheel's attempts to do otherwise, have had a clear and significant impact on the surrounding environment. It would be impossible to introduce a change of such magnitude to an established ecosystem and not anticipate any negative changes or reactions in the area's wildlife and natural processes.The construction of the various islands off the coast of Dubai has resulted in changes in area wildlife, coastal erosion and alongshore sediment transport, and wave patterns. Sediment stirred up by construction has suffocated and injured local marine fauna and reduced the amount of sunlight filtered down to seashore vegetation. Variations in alongshore sediment transport have resulted in changes in erosion patterns along the UAE coast, which has also been exacerbated by altered wave patterns as the waters of the Gulf attempt to move around the new obstruction of the islands. 
Not surprisingly, Dubai's megaprojects have become a favorite cause of environmentalists. Greenpeace has criticized the Palm Islands' complete and utter lack of sustainability, and Mongabay.com, a site dedicated to rain forest conservation, has attacked Dubai's artificial islands aggressively, stating that:
significant changes in the maritime environment [of Dubai] are leaving a visual scar [. . .] As a result of the dredging and redepositing of sand for the construction of the islands, the typically crystalline waters of the gulf of Dubai have become severely clouded with silt. Construction activity is damaging the marine habitat, burying coral reefs, oyster beds and subterranean fields of sea grass, threatening local marine species as well as other species dependent on them for food. Oyster beds have been covered in as much as two inches of sediment, while above the water, beaches are eroding with the disruption of natural currents .
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